Politics of fear: Springfield uses citizens at risk as political pawn

By on June 19, 2009

Editorial
What is more sickening than a sitting Illinois governor indicted on charges that he tried to sell a U.S. Senate appointment to the highest bidder? A sitting Illinois governor who puts a political gun to the heads of the state’s citizens most at risk, threatening their state assistance if the legislature fails to approve a 50 percent income tax increase.

After the state legislature recently failed to pass a fully-funded budget, social service agencies under the control of Gov. Pat Quinn began sending letters to providers that receive funding from the state, informing them of what is being referred to as the “Doomsday Budget.”

Essentially, Quinn is threatening to cut human-service funding by between 50 and 100 percent if the state fails to increase taxes to cover the state’s massive deficit. What this will do is eliminate or vastly reduce the services received by victims of domestic violence, children in need, individuals with developmental disabilities—in other words, those most in need and those who tend to have the least political clout in Springfield will end up entirely on their own or at the mercy of the goodwill of their respective communities.

To use those citizens most in need as a political pawn is possibly the only conceivable thing more disgusting than the behavior of our previous governor.

Gov. Quinn, your politics of fear has created a false choice. The intent is to strike a deep-seated and real fear in the citizens of Illinois, in the hopes that the response is a knee-jerk reaction to urge their representatives to pass a 50 percent income tax increase.

While the fear is real, the choice is not. Until you eliminate all patronage jobs, all the pork, waste and corruption in the state’s budget, all the inefficiencies, unnecessary and redundant programs, you have not even begun to do your job.

Rather than do the real, hard work your office requires, you have chosen to take the lazy way out and set up a straw man; and that straw man has a political gun pointed at every citizen who has a legitimate need for state funding.

The problem is not that the state’s citizens do not pay enough in taxes. The problem is that so much overspending on unnecessary programs, inefficiencies and corruption has ballooned the state’s budget to a state of insolvency.

You are part of the problem. However, there is still time to be part of the solution.

That solution will require leaders who are willing to shut up, sit down and get to work on transforming the state from one that rewards political power and connections and pays for those rewards on the backs of its citizens who do not have the clout, the ability or the energy to fight big, corrupt government.

There is plenty of blame to go around on both sides of the political aisle. There are very few, if any, true reformers in state government that have not been attacked and undermined by the power brokers in their respective parties.

It is clear that some in the state government are focused on obtaining and retaining political power, as opposed to actually solving the problems that need resolution and reforming the corrupt and wasteful practices that have made our state the laughingstock of the nation.

It is time to stand up and demand reform and fight against the politics of fear that Gov. Quinn and the political party brokers engage in.

In Aurora, a rally Friday, June 19, at 10 a.m. will highlight the impacts the threatened cuts will have on local residents. The rally will be held at Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services, Inc., 400 Mercy Lane, Aurora, on the Mercy Hospital campus.

We hope the public shows up in force and demands that not only the “Doomsday Budget” cuts be taken off the table, but that until the state budget eliminates all waste and corruption, an income tax increase also remain off the table.

The “Doomsday” cuts are supposedly going into effect July 1, so it is time for the public to stand up and refuse the false choice that unless its citizens pay 50 percent more in income taxes, the failures of the state government should be paid for on the backs of our citizens most in need and most at risk.

Contact our local representatives and demand they be part of the solution. Our state Senator is Chris Lauzen (25th District) and can be reached by phone at (630) 264-2334 or e-mail at admin@lauzen.com. Our state Representative is Kay Hatcher (50th District), and she can be reached by phone at (630) 553-3223 or e-mail at kay@kayhatcher.us.